ABC To Broadcast Sydney NYE…Again.

Despite two controversial broadcasts in a row, the ABC has been awarded the TV broadcast rights for this year’s Sydney NYE event.

This, along with this year’s Sydney NYE theme, ‘City Of Colour’, was confirmed following the release of details of an ABC3 ‘Design Your Own Firework‘ Competition:

The ABC first broadcasted Sydney’s NYE celebrations in the 1970’s in 4-hour broadcasts but that was back when the event was more of a music concert. Fast forward to 2013 and the ABC surprisingly got the rights of the now high-profile event for the 2013 & 2014 events.

They took the ambitious step of returning the event to 4-hour broadcasts for the first time in nearly 30 years despite no time-consuming TV-quality scheduled Sydney Harbour entertainment in the 3 hour gap between 9pm and Midnight so ABC resorted to their own entertainment choices.

As an event watched by 1 billion people worldwide, it is a given that it rates well on TV so despite 2 years of ratings success, ABC’s entertainment choices for the night have not been so good and over time, did not improve but got worse. Immediately after both broadcasts, speculation on the next broadcast rights holder begun. Here is where they went wrong:


  • Offensive & insensitive comments
  • Rushed 9pm Family Fireworks countdown – have to be on time.
  • Hosts seemed to be influenced by alcohol
  • Long interviews
  • Dull quizzes with guests
  • Concerns that the broadcast was politicised


  • Constant repetition of the ‘ABC Budget Cut’ joke – once would have been enough
  • Concerns that the broadcast was politicised
  • Little but some coverage of the Acknowledgement Of Country ceremony (At least they showed some – Channel 9 ignored the ceremony completely between 2009 & 2012. Channel Ten & ABC showed it in full in 2008 & 2013)
  • No 9pm Family Fireworks countdown this time – who does not like the countdown?
  • The ‘Pub Quiz’ broadcast – an expansion of the guest quiz from the previous broadcast – great idea for a game show but not for NYE entertainment.
  • Long interviews
  • A 15-minute segment dedicated to the negatives of NYE
  • Bad camera work and technical issues (excluding the drone usage – that was something new remember)
  • And finally something that all media outlets missed, delayed footage of the 9pm Family Fireworks inserted into the live Midnight Fireworks.

Of course, the 2014 broadcast was summed up in it’s conclusion when host Julia Zemiro infamously said: “Oh, thank god” after the credits started rolling.

The broadcast isn’t shown internationally except the fireworks segments. In 2013, the post-10:30pm broadcast was shown to Asia & Oceania. Ironically, the Telstra YouTube broadcast of the event, which is shown internationally, was extremely well produced with continuously entertaining musical performances from high-profile artists, short interviews with those artists and YouTube personalities & more complete coverage of activities on Sydney Harbour. One downside of the YouTube broadcast though is that the official fireworks soundtrack is not broadcast due to copyright reasons.

Sydney NYE broadcasts are not new to controversy but 2 controversial broadcasts in a row was unprecedented. NYE1979 saw drunken crowd behaviour on live TV climaxing with The Angels’ frontman, Doc Neeson, being hit in the head and thus injured by a large object thrown by someone in the crowd. NYE2006 saw a Channel Ten broadcast which was clearly deemed ‘not family friendly’ and NYE2009 was more of a Channel 9 promo.

The TV rights went up for grabs again in April this year and instead of the usual tender process of the past 6 years, the City Of Sydney returned to sponsorship agreements (a practice they did between 1996 & 2008) and as we now know, ABC signed it. We understand it is a 1-year minimum contract.

Details and duration of the Sydney NYE2015 TV broadcast have not been revealed as yet but the 9pm Family Fireworks & the ABC3 ‘Design Your Own Firework‘ Competition winners have been confirmed as features of the broadcast. The Midnight Fireworks, whilst not confirmed, are all but guaranteed.

ABC is a professional television broadcaster and expectations of them are high. They can deliver but with the past 2 Sydney NYE broadcasts they have gotten it disastrously wrong. Hopefully when details are released, the program is different and entertaining even if it is 4 hours long. A 3rd chance is usually the limit – they have got to get it right or at least significantly improve.

ABC has been contacted for comment. No response was received.

Since the theme has been confirmed, our ‘Guess The Bridge Effect’ section has now opened up again. All that is left to be announced is the Creative Ambassador. With the theme ‘City Of Colour’, it could be a famous, bright & colourful Sydneysider. Can you guess who it will be? We’ll just have to wait & see.